Wednesday, 21 August 2013

KOP: How Often Should You Blog?

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So by now you have set up most of the basics to create your platform. All you need now is to put something out there and get people to read it! 

So today's blog post is on a rather controversial topic: how often should you post on your blog? 
(no, I didn't realise this was controversial either until quite recently.)

Method 1: The More The Better

When I first started blogging, I read that you need to post regularly, at least 4 times a week. The logic for this was pretty sound:
1. You want to build up a strong archive of good posts so that when people come to visit, they have something to actually read.
2. The more posts = the more ways people can find you through search engines.
3. If you don't keep updating your content, there is no reason for someone to keep visiting.
4. If someone subscribes, then the more often you post, the more often you will pop up in their inbox, and the more they will remember you.

For example, Susan Gunelius on About.com suggests the following frequencies:
  • For maximum growth: post multiple times per day to drive the most traffic (3-5 times or more is considered best for power bloggers).
  • For steady growth: post at least once per day.
  • For slower growth: publish at least every 3 days or 2-3 times per week.
  • For very slow growth: posting less frequently than 2-3 days per week is most appropriate for bloggers who maintain blogs as a hobby with no strategic plans for growth 

All of this sounded like very good advice. So for the first few months I tried to post 5 days a week, though generally managed 4. During this period my traffic slowly (painfully slowly) started to increase. Small miracles happened which would give me a sudden burst, and then it would settle down again. 

When I had to go back to full time work, my number of posts dropped off. I wanted to do 3 times a week, but sometimes struggled to even make 1. During these times, there was a direct correlation between the number of times I posted and the traffic for that week. Every day that I did write something, there was a spike in my stats. After that, it would slowly decrease over the next few days until I posted again. This reinforced to me my need to post as frequently as I could.

However, on my fitness blog, which is newer than 100FD, I found that even though I posted less often and had less content (though it was solid) I still had stronger stats that didn't dwindle based on posting frequency. The reason for this is because the majority of traffic is from Google to a small number of articles which rank really well. I had spent time promoting a few of my articles so they ranked well, which ended up paying a lot more dividends than writing more posts. (I mainly used article marketing to get backlinks and authority.) This is much more in the style of the second suggested method.


Method 2:  Less Writing, More Promotion

One advocate of this message is John Locke who wrote the book 'How I Sold A Million EBooks In 5 Months' (has some good tips here and there though a lot of his success I think is based on his personal circumstances and wouldn't work for everyone the same way. But since I paid $2.75 for the kindle version, I thought it was worth the investment.) He has a blog he posts on about once a month! I was completely shocked when I heard this. At the time of writing his book, he only had about 7 posts on the entire blog! So why does he do it this way? (And yes, it is a conscious decision, not just because he's lazy.)

The arguments in favour of this method include:
1. You only have top quality content on your site.
2. When you write a great piece, it doesn't immediately get buried but is available for people to read for a longer period.
3. If you haven't got much traffic, you should spend more time generate traffic than putting up content that no one is reading. 
4. Most of the reasons why you should post frequently don't apply as a new blogger: you aren't going to rank well on the search engines no matter what, and without readers or subscribers, no one is sharing your content or looking out for you. 
5. Instead, you want exposure: you want to spend your time appearing on every major blog in your areas so people actually know you.

However, the keys to this method, which a lot of people ignore, is a) making sure your content is even stronger and better researched than if you posted more frequently and b) still spending the same amount of time on the computer, but just using it differently. 

I have to say, this method has a lot going for it. With so many blogs out there, it is almost impossible to be found without a miracle if you aren't active in the community. Unless you already have a very strong readership who will come to you just because you are you, I think focusing on being known in the community is a much better use of your time.

In my own personal experience, I have to admit that the big jumps in traffic for me came from a) being linked to in Nathan Branford's post about Heifer International (which only happened because I was reading his blog and commented), b) being in ROW 80 and having my blog appear in a blog hop every week, then c) going to those other ROW 80 blogs and commenting and just being active in that community. 

I heard another point in favour of infrequent posting on The Self-Publishing Podcast (this is a great podcast, though does have a lot of swearing and could easily be cut in half they spend so much time laughing at their own jokes. However, they do give some great tips in amongst that). Their advice was particularly focused on writers trying to become visible as an author (rather than just trying to get people to your blog to sell them things there). They suggested that if you have the material for a great post, instead of putting it on your blog, you should think about turning it into a free ebook to download through Amazon KDP Select. One of the hosts did this in reverse, taking a popular blog post and turning it into an ebook which is now free, and it gets downloaded roughly 90 times per day. That's a lot of people seeing you on Amazon where your other books will be.

Further, they argued that if you don't have a great idea for a post that day, spend the time on actually writing your novels! Don't blog at the expense of actually getting your writing out there because you can't count on becoming well-known based on even a handful of books. You need to be prolific (with quality) if you want to be discovered as an author. 

This is good to remember, that your promotion should not be at the expensive of your writing. However, I also strongly believe that as a writer you need to practice as much as you can. What better way to practice and train as a writer than to spend 30 minutes a day or a few times a week writing and then getting feedback on that writing? The discipline itself is a great reason to blog more often. Further, for me, a lot of my blog posts help create my 'Five Day Writer' series, so the more I post, the more of my books I get written. 

So, in summary, it's not as simple as blog more/ blog less.

Key Points To Remember:

- For either method, you are still spending the same time online (not writing novels/living/etc), just one is focused on producing more content, and the other is focused on getting more exposure for less content. 
- I believe you still need an archive of posts before you start promoting yourself.
- If you want to build up your platform super-fast, then you need to spend more time overall both producing more content and getting more exposure. 
- Every new blogger needs to introduce themselves to the community somehow. Just writing content and hoping that someone will read it is a very, very slow way to go. 
- You are a writer! Writing blog posts is all part of your training. So don't be afraid of it. 
- Make sure you are in a niche that excites you enough that you can write lots of content.

Final point which I think is sound: whichever you decide to do, let your reader know. If they know how often and when you are going to post (every Monday, or every first Monday of the month) they will be more likely to remember to come back on check on you. 
Otherwise, they might keep coming back for a week and since nothing new is there give up. On the other hand, they might subscribe, but once they realise you post everyday, they might just start deleting you from their inbox. 

Talking about subscribing... have you subscribed to 100 first drafts yet? Sign up to receive posts via email, or become a follower. 
(I'm trying to post 1-3 times per week at the moment, just in case you were wondering :D).



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